For children of the core born post-the first few waves, it's hard to imagine a world without The Jesus Lizard; a band with a siren song so strong that it has lead Denison-disciples to a Lizard-inspired renaissance not once, but twice. The mid '90s gave us a whole slew of Shortys, of Phleg Camps, of Cake Likes that tuned their instruments to gut-wrenchin', grindin', and screamin', allowing them to wreck their ships of talent on the shores of no exposure, gaining them only the allegiance of the lands of Albini. Now, once more, kids who missed the first run-through of JL copycatism are channeling their inner Yow for a generation that never heard Boilermaker until they downloaded it (Your author, ladies and gents). Mar, Young Widows, Tinsel Teeth; the young bucks in a game that grants few fortune.
Yet, for all of this enduring fandom for the unique sound of Chicago's finest, it's the older Texas quartet that's usually forgotten. Scratch Acid is now relegated to something like footnote status, known to most only as the thing that came before. Although they reunite occasionally, like a spazzy Halley's Comet to ring in special anniversaries, they don't seem to hold the same clout in the, ugh, scene as what came after. That's a real shame. Scratch Acid was the breeding ground for the Jesus Lizard's sound, true, but it was a sponge that soaked up a hell of a lot more than the Lizard ever did, oftentimes sounding like a psychedelic, surf rocking, ear-drum-fuck of epic atmospheric proportions.
All of their recorded work can now be picked up for cheap on the Greatest Gift compilation that thankfully kept most of this stuff in print. And, right from the top, you can hear their best song, culled from their '84 EP. Cannibal stuns with its simplicity, gunning for the head with a subtly-evolving repeating riff, a young Yow's masterful yells (notice just how perfect they are, cracking and distorting at all the right moments), and a steady rhythm section that would become these guys' stock in trade for the next few decades. Greater yet, it doesn't overstay its welcome, tying the entire package up in under two and a half minutes of post-hardcore perfection. It almost doesn't get better than this, which is strange that it doesn't hit more of the CD mixtapes I receive from buddies. Oh well. Here's their chance now.